The Overwatch League (OWL) currently features twelve franchised teams that represent major cities around the world. People who live in, or around Texas may know that the cities of Dallas and Houston are constantly going head to head and fighting to be the top competitor in every aspect. When OWL teams for both Dallas and Houston were announced, a fire was lit under the gaming chairs of the Overwatch community: who will take the turf of Texas? With 16 players from across the the globe, and an immeasurable amount of talent and skill, everyone’s watching to see what will happen between the two teams in the end.
Awareness of the game around you
In their much-anticipated preseason matchup, Dallas Fuel and the Houston Outlaws went head to head in five games, where Dallas came out ahead, beating Houston three matches to two.
Map 1: Escort
The Outlaws took the first match on Dorado, stampeding their way through the two Checkpoints they needed, with Outlaws’ LiNkzr and Fuel’s Taimou facing off as Widowmaker – though Taimou put up a fight, LiNkzr prevailed.
Map 2: Capture
Coming back in the second game in the Temple of Anubis, Fuel started off with xQc playing aggressively as Winston, bowling the Outlaws over. Meanwhile, Taimou took revenge on LiNkzr’s sniping skills, earning them a quick capture of Point A. The Outlaws quickly engaged in a similarly successful style of attack, and the match went into an extra round, where Dallas Fuel claimed the game-winning third Point B.
Game 3: Control
In the third game, on Oasis, the Outlaws secured the first point, and things were looking good for them until Fuel Effect’s Tracer swept the point and Taimou’s switch to Roadhog dominated them with clean hooks. As a result, Fuel took both of the last point captures.
Game 4: Hybrid
Fuel pushed forward and took the Capture Point on Eichenwalde, but Jake moved forward as Junkrat and forced Harryhook on Zenyatta to use his Transcendence to survive. Despite Harryhook’s early ult, Jake managed to take out Chipshajen as Mercy out within the same play. Taimou, as McCree, kept hold of the Payload using Deadeye, which granted Dallas Fuel a few picks as well as the next Checkpoint. In response, the Outlaws became more aggressive in their attack, taking Point A just as quickly as Fuel did. Continuing with their rush of ferocity, Outlaws took the next Checkpoint and pushed the Payload to victory as an unstoppable force.
Game 5: Control (Tiebreaker)
The first point of Lijiang Tower went to the Outlaws for 37%, until Fuel snatched it back, carrying it to 99% before Houston took control again, winning the first round. Dallas Fuel led the second point until Outlaws captured it at 80%. The Outlaws held out until 99% but lost to Fuel in round two. Round three saw the Outlaws struggling to take the Capture Point, up until Seagull’s Riptire effectively stopped their push. Effect and Seagull kept the Houston Outlaws at bay and took the last win of the day.
The Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel saw a fairly even set of games in the preseason, and had to fight hard for their respective wins, so when their next battle in Stage One occurred on January 18th, spectators were taken aback by the change they saw in gameplay from both teams. The first week of Stage One in the Overwatch League was not kind to Texas, as Dallas and Houston lost nearly all of their matches against other teams. In Week Two, the Outlaws seemed to have flipped a switch, as they won all eight games that they played with ease. Upon facing Dallas Fuel, the Outlaws showed no mercy, and it seemed like Fuel could barely fight back.
Stage One: Houston Outlaws vs Dallas Fuel
Map 1: Escort
Starting on Junkertown, Dallas started with a Pirate Ship composition, running the team around Orisa and Bastion. Unfortunately for Fuel, Chipshajen as Bastion couldn’t even get onto the payload to set up in turret-form before Houston destroyed Cocco’s Orisa barrier. We saw Custa play Mercy, though he seemed uncomfortable with the pick and couldn’t manage to get a good Valkyrie out before dying. Fuel’s Seagull and Effect took on the roles of snipers as Hanzo and Widowmaker, but LiNkzr’s Widowmaker struck harder, hitting headshot after headshot and constantly leaving Fuel down by at least one team member. LiNkzr’s domination via Widowmaker brought back the sniper rivalry we watched hungrily in the preseason games. Houston moved as a unit, while Dallas Fuel seemed to have a little more trouble sticking together as Houston drove through them. The Outlaws pulled out a similar Orisa-Bastion composition for round two, with Rawkus and Muma more successfully pushing forward than Chipshajen and Cocco could. The match was over extremely quickly, the Outlaws leaving zero room for Dallas to contest the Payload at the last second.
Map 2: Assault
The second game featured Horizon Lunar Colony, where Dallas was able to take Point A fairly quickly, running an aggressive team with Mickie on D.va and Cocco on Winston taking high ground against Muma’s Orisa barrier and Jake’s Junkrat. Though the push was largely unsuccessful, Mickie’s Self Destruct forced Houston off of the point and allowed Dallas to capture it. Point B proved to be a different story, when the Outlaws began picking off every member of Dallas Fuel that dared to walk into the room almost instantly. Fuel’s synergy was shot, with barely any coordination, awarding them less than one tick on the point. In the second round, the Outlaws burst forward on a solo-support composition, with Rawkus switching from Zenyatta to Sombra. LiNkzr’s Widowmaker dominated once again, picking off Custa and Chipshajen as Mercy and Zenyatta multiple times, leaving Dallas without supports. Houston took both points with little to no resistance from Dallas Fuel.
Map 3: Control
Oasis was the setting for game three of the Texas showdown, and at this point in the day, it seemed that Dallas had lost whatever “fuel” they had left. They managed to pick off enough of the Outlaws to take control of the point both rounds, but had to relinquish it to Houston before they managed even 50% of the capture. Chipshajen was forced to use his ultimate as Zenyatta despite being nowhere near the point, and then switched to Lucio in a last-ditch attempt to reach the point and contest, but to no avail as Coolmatt’s D.va got kill after kill, easily wiping half the team and securing the point for Houston. The pressure by the Outlaws offensive players kept the point clean and clear of Dallas Fuel heroes.
Map 4: Hybrid
Eichenwalde was the last resort for Dallas Fuel to pull out a win for the day. Taimou was finally put into the playing roster and as McCree, he annihilated Jake’s Pharah and Muma’s Winston, allowing Fuel to take point A with ease and charging his Deadeye almost completely. The Outlaws didn’t expect the quick wipe and in turn didn’t have time to set up a full defense, allowing even more room for pushing on Dallas’ end. Jake pulled out his feared Junkrat and forced Fuel to reset, allowing his team to set up a more solid defensive position. Houston got to push back the payload and ran down the clock on Fuel. In Houston’s attack round, Dallas held on Point A for a good amount of time before giving it up. Once the Outlaws got Point A, their momentum kept them running and coming back for more – Houston swept the floor with Fuel and took the last point needed to win their 4th match of the day.
Dallas Fuel’s Effect and Houston Outlaws’ LiNkzr seem to have never-ending competitions as both Tracer and Widowmaker, keeping crowds captivated as they take turns eliminating each other and going head to head. Though Effect’s Tracer was, well, “effect”ive, the Outlaws seem to have planned for this and spent time making sure he couldn’t work to his full potential by countering him repeatedly. Jake especially focused hard using Junkrat to predict Effect’s movements and keep him at bay. Had Effect switched heroes earlier, Fuel might have been able to get a little farther. In his stream after the games, Effect said that there was a huge lack of coordination between the tanks and supports of Dallas Fuel, and he felt it cost them the win overall.
While playing D.va, Dallas Fuel’s Mickie did a good job of zoning the enemies and clearing points when he needed to, but Outlaws’ Coolmatt continually got the kills that his team thrived off of. Fuel Cocco and Outlaws Muma going at each other, both as Orisa and as Winston was interesting, but Muma was a much-needed solid wall of aggression while Cocco had to keep backing up to try and keep his team alive. Watching Custa and Chipshajen compete with Bani, Boink, and Rawkus almost seemed unfair – the Outlaws Supports seemed to outclass Fuel at nearly every turn, and the lack of communication that Effect expressed could easily explain their lack of performance.
Now that Dallas Fuel holds the Preseason matchup win and the Houston Outlaws have taken Texas for Stage One, fans of both teams are anxiously awaiting the day they face off again. Their next matchup will be interesting – the Outlaws did their homework on how to take down Fuel, and now it’s Dallas’ turn to study up and come back even stronger. Unfortunately it’ll be a long wait, since Dallas and Houston don’t compete with each other again until Stage Three, on April 21st. Until then, we’ll have to be content with our own speculations and watching the teams take on other franchises in their divisions.